The U.S. women's World Cup soccer team this week is locked in a dispute about receiving the same compensation as the men's team. Can you believe we're busting these women's metaphorical balls over a few bucks after that incredible victory? Shouldn't we be paying them for taking the term "header" out of the White House and putting it back onto the playing fields where it belongs?

Now I don't want to get off on a rant here, but tonight's subject is "women in sports." I know what the women are thinking: "Oh, great, goatee boy is gonna tell us about women in sports. We're gonna hear all about women's sports from the funny little man on TV who's more full of shit than a whale with no ass." Well, I happen to love women's sports. Sometimes, even for the right reasons.

You know, the increasing visibility of women's athletics has to be attributed to more than simply being the right idea at the right time. The women's World Cup soccer team and the players in the WNBA have struck a resounding chord deep in the American psyche, because they have something that most pampered, overpaid, arrogant male athletes long ago forgot about. They have breasts--I mean, heart.

Seriously, I believe the reason people follow women's sports nowadays is that for the most part, female athletes are still pure. Women play for the reason male athletes used to play: the love of the game. They sure as hell aren't doing it for the money, are they? Christ, the kids making their shoes are getting paid better than they are. Anyway, when I read about male professional athletes being arrested for murder, assault, rape and theft, I must say I agree with those who say they just can't see women competing on the same level as men.

Look, as long as women have been around, they've had athletic ability. It's just that their defined role in our society was narrower than an armrest on Southwest Airlines. Opportunities for women used to be harder to come by than a Pat Buchanan button in a Mexican border town, but they are finally getting more plentiful.

In just a few short decades, our perception of female athleticism has shifted from the cliched lanky, deep-voiced, perpetually single girls' gym teacher to indisputably feminine sports figures like Mia Hamm, Gabrielle Reece and Anna Kournikova. Although there are exceptions--Like that Rodman chick. What's up with her?

If you doubt the genetic capability of women to physically compete with men, stay up late some night and check out women's bodybuilding on ESPN 2. The other night I saw a woman who looked like a shiny fire hydrant with eye lashes, straining so hard in the final pose-down that a tiny, perfectly formed penis popped out of her bikini bottom. Well, I've got some news for all you female bodybuilders out there, especially the ones who are more ripped than Hillary Clinton's love letters from Bill: Let me assure you that people are checking you out, but they're looking at you for the same reason they look at incredibly bad toupees. And of course no one is going to tell you that you look frightening, because we're all afraid you'll kick our scrawny little asses, OK, Congolia?

On the other side of the Susan B. Anthony dollar, why are certain events at the Olympics restricted only to women? Take rhythmic gymnastics. Is there something unmanly about a guy doing backflips down the balance beam, or playing with a red ball and whipping that ribbon on a stick around to "Muskrat Love?" I think not.

Female athletes must deal with a host of stereotypes, the most prominent being that women's sports is the exclusive domain of lesbians. Some people actually believe that LPGA stands for "Look Prick, Go Away." Like most stereotypes, that one is simply not true, except when it's true. By the way, in pointing out the inaccuracy of a particular generalization, I am not implying that there's anything wrong with lesbians--whether on the field or off, whether they're in training or in the showers after the game, soaping each others' toned, hard bodies and giggling girlishly as their friendly pushing and teasing escalates into something much, much more... Where was I? Oh, yeah--the stereotype thing--no, not true at all.

Maybe what's really happening is that we've evolved to a point where we're no longer shoehorned into rigidly confined gender roles. Maybe we're developing into a society where it's okay for women to be forceful and powerful, competitive and driven, and it's okay for men to be soft and passive and do cross-stitch embroidery and cry at movies and squeal at kittens in baskets and walk around the house in their lacy underthings without their wives rolling their eyes and saying, "Come on, for crissake, the pizza guy's on his way over. Wouldja put some goddamn pants on, Dennis?"

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.


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